FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 14
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through some of the top plays in Week 14.
Josh Allen ($8,800 on FanDuel): Allen is coming off one of his worst fantasy performances of the season, but he deserves a pass in what was an unforgiving matchup against both the elements and an elite Patriots defense. A potential shootout against Tom Brady ($8,200) and the Buccaneers figures to be a good spot for Allen to bounce back.
While both teams have top-notch pass defenses, that shouldn't necessarily prevent this game from turning into a high-scoring affair. This matchup boasts the highest over/under on the board (53.5), and the Bucs are only 3.0-point favorites. Additionally, according to our Brandon Gdula, this matchup rates as the best overall in combined pass rate and the fourth-best in pace.
As for Allen, his upside isn't in question, posting 28 or more FanDuel points in 5 of 12 starts this season. He continues to thrive in fantasy as a dual-threat, ranking third at the position in rushing yards and averaging 6.3 carries and 35.2 yards per game.
Dak Prescott ($8,100): It's been a rocky few weeks for Prescott, putting up duds in two of the past three, but he should finally have all his pass-catchers fully healthy, and this is a good spot against Washington.
Although Washington's defense has enjoyed better results of late, they still rank 30th in schedule-adjusted pass defense, per numberFire's metrics. Dallas likes to play fast, too, helping this game check in as the best in combined pace, per Gdula. It also can't hurt that the Cowboys played last Thursday, giving them extra time to prepare for this matchup.
Prescott isn't running as much this season, but he's getting the job done through the air, producing 0.22 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back -- the seventh-best mark in the league and roughly double the league average.
Dallas has also leaned more on the pass lately, too, as Prescott's attempted 39 or more passes in five of the last six starts. And there's a good chance that remains the case with Ezekiel Elliott at less than 100% and Tony Pollard trending towards a game-time decision.
Cam Newton ($7,400): Following an atrocious Week 12 performance against Miami, it's understandable to be wary of Newton going forward, but let's not forget that he posted the fourth-best quarterback score (26.16) of Week 11, so we shouldn't write him off just yet.
Between getting a much-needed bye week to learn Carolina's playbook and a plus matchup versus the Falcons, Newton should be better set up to mirror that first start. Atlanta is 28th in both adjusted total defense and adjusted pass defense.
There's no doubt that the loss of Christian McCaffrey is a massive blow to this offense, but it could also mean even more rushes for Newton in the red zone, which is where his dual-threat skills remain deadly. He's already tallied 3 rushing scores in limited time, and he led the position with 12 last year.
Newton only has the ninth-highest salary among quarterbacks, and numberFire's model likes him as the best point-per-dollar value this week.
Austin Ekeler ($9,200): With Jonathan Taylor off the main slate on a bye, that leaves Ekeler as the highest-salaried running back, and he's deserving of that distinction with the top projection at the position in numberFire's model.
While the Chargers are one of the league's most pass-heavy teams, they're coming in as 9.5-point home favorites over the Giants, giving them more incentive to hand Ekeler more carries in what should be a positive game script. New York also ranks just 26th in adjusted rush defense.
Furthermore, even if they maintain a high pass rate, as usual, top wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are on the COVID-19 list, putting them in danger of sitting out this weekend. If one or both are ruled out, Ekeler could get peppered with targets at an even higher clip. As is, Ekeler has the third-highest target share on the team behind those two (15.3%), averaging 5.9 targets per game.
Alvin Kamara ($9,000): The stars could be aligning for Kamara, as his return to full practice coincided with Mark Ingram being placed on the COVID-19 list. Prior to Ingram joining the team, Kamara averaged 30.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) across six games. For context, Ekeler has averaged 24.3 adjusted opportunities per game this season.
Of course, Jameis Winston was at quarterback during that six-game span, and Taysom Hill ($7,700) figures to steal away rushes from Kamara even if Ingram is out. Still, with Hill now playing through a finger issue, it's reasonable to expect Kamara to be relied upon heavily both as a runner and in the short passing game.
This is the right opponent for Kamara and the Saints to get this offense rolling against the Jets -- a team that ranks 32nd in adjusted defense. Only Ekeler is projected for more FanDuel points than Kamara at running back.
Leonard Fournette ($7,600): There's loads of potential in the sub-$8,000 range, though the outlooks of Javonte Williams ($6,700) and Antonio Gibson ($7,400) remain in flux following the potential returns of Melvin Gordon and J.D. McKissic to their respective teams. Both situations need to be monitored closely in case one or both backs are thrust into a bell-cow role again this week.
One guy whose workload remains secure is Fournette. Over the past two weeks, the Bucs have upped his snap rate to 84.0%, and he's averaged a tantalizing 31.0 adjusted opportunities. Most notably, that includes eight targets in each of those games, good for an 18.8% target share.
Having that kind of target share tied to Tom Brady is a fantasy goldmine, yet we aren't paying a premium salary to roster his services. He's a fantastic addition to any stacks involving the Bucs or opposing Bills.
Josh Jacobs ($7,100): Even if Melvin Gordon returns for Denver -- which is how things are trending -- you can make a case for Javonte Williams if you believe his Week 13 outburst earns him a far bigger share of the pie moving forward. That said, he could be a popular play, so if this reverts to a split backfield, it will be an uphill battle for Williams to post another big score.
One potential pivot is Jacobs, who is expected to have a workhorse role following a season-ending injury to Kenyan Drake. With Drake going down early last week, Jacobs would go on to play a season-high 83.9% of the snaps, helping him tally 31.0 adjusted opportunities. In terms of volume, Jacobs could very well rival anyone on the slate, and yet, he's at just the 11th-highest salary at the position.
The real question mark is whether the Raiders can keep things interesting against the Chiefs as 10.0-point underdogs -- particularly with Kansas City looking better on defense lately. That being said, Jacobs saw a season-best nine targets last week, so he should remain involved even if things go south. The matchup is otherwise a good one, too; the Chiefs still rank 30th in adjusted rush defense this year.
Tyreek Hill ($8,700): After a streak of eight straight games with nine or more targets, Hill only saw five in Week 13 versus Denver, leading to a season-low two receptions. It was an all-around lackluster performance for this aerial attack, though, as Mahomes would ultimately complete just 15-of-29 passes for 184 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick.
We should expect Hill to see far more volume and production in an easier spot against the Raiders. Las Vegas ranks 27th in adjusted pass defense, and Hill made his presence known when these two teams played a few weeks back, hauling in 7-of-10 targets for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns (24.0 FanDuel points).
Stefon Diggs ($8,200): At this stage, Diggs is arguably the only consistent pass-catcher Buffalo's offense, making him the clear top choice to pair with Josh Allen.
For the year, Diggs has enjoyed a 24.8% target share and 32.9% air yards share, and since the return of Dawson Knox ($6,000), those marks have actually jumped even higher at 28.5% and 39.7% over the past four weeks. It's actually Knox with the second-highest target share (16.3%) over that span, making him someone to consider at tight end, too.
Diggs has the second-best wideout projection on the slate, and right behind him is Tampa's Chris Godwin ($7,700), who's coming off a massive Week 13 performance. Given the way Brady spreads things around, any of Godwin, Mike Evans ($7,200), and Rob Gronkowski ($7,000) can also be considered in Bills-Bucs game stacks.
Amari Cooper ($6,700): Similar to Tampa Bay, Dallas is loaded with talented pass-catchers, and we're finally seeing them all together at full health again. CeeDee Lamb ($7,800), Cooper, and Michael Gallup ($6,100) form a formidable wideout trio, and all of them have had their moments this season. Tight end Dalton Schultz ($5,700) remains in the mix, as well.
Of course, this also makes it tricky to pinpoint which one will bust out this week. Therefore, it might not be a bad idea to target the one who may draw the least attention in Cooper.
Lamb has been the most consistent of the bunch, so he's the natural top choice, while Gallup has appeal at his modest salary. Cooper falls in the middle of the two, and due to COVID-19 and injuries, he's either sat out or played reduced snaps since the beginning of November. As a result, Cooper hasn't played a full game since Week 8, the last time he posted double-digit FanDuel points.
All of this could keep the public away from Cooper, but all indications are that he should play a full complement of snaps this week. We've seen Cooper explode for big games plenty of times before, so this isn't a bad opportunity to "buy low" before he regains everyone's trust again. To top it off, Washington has also been one of the best matchups for opposing wideouts this season.
Elijah Moore ($6,300): Moore missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, which is never a good sign, and he's officially listed as questionable. But in the event that he does play, he's shaking out to be one of the better wideout values.
Since seeing a spike in snaps, Moore has averaged 10.3 targets per game with a 33.0% targets share and 51.2% air yards share over the past three weeks. That's insane volume for this salary, and even in this listless Jets offense, he's posted 25.6, 7.3, and 17.6 FanDuel points during this stretch.
Moore's the best -- and perhaps only -- Jets player to consider if you want a bring-back option with Alvin Kamara.
George Kittle ($7,100): With Deebo Samuel out, it was Kittle who emerged as the big winner on San Francisco last week, catching 9-of-12 targets for 181 yards and 2 scores for 35.1 FanDuel points. That's a ceiling rarely seen from a tight end, and unsurprisingly, it earned him a spot on the Week 13 perfect lineup.
Targets can be hard to come by on an offense that much prefers to run the ball, as Jimmy Garoppolo has exceeded 30 pass attempts only twice in 11 starts this season. That does put a damper on Kittle's floor, but with Samuel missing practice again this week and the 49ers looking short-handed at running back, he could once again be heavily involved. In Week 13, his 12 targets were good for a 40.0% target share, and no other players saw more than 6 targets.
This projects as a tight game, as well, with San Francisco coming into Cincinnati as mere 1.5-point road favorites. A back-and-forth game would make it more likely that Garoppolo is forced to pass more, further helping Kittle's outlook.
Kittle is the top tight end in numberFire's projections.
Jared Cook ($5,100): Cook's viability revolves around the status of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but he could be in line for an increased role if one or both are out. Cook is the clear pass-catching option at tight end, ranking fourth on the team in target share (12.7%) and route rate (62.9%). His 56.6% snap rate isn't especially exciting -- and it's dipped closer to 50% since their Week 7 bye -- but that could also see a bump under the circumstances, too.
Other value alternatives include Foster Moreau ($5,200) if Darren Waller is unable to play again, and Ricky Seals-Jones ($4,500), who could re-inherit the Logan Thomas role for Washington if he's back this weekend.
Los Angeles Chargers D/ST ($4,300): The Seattle D/ST ($4,500) and New Orleans D/ST ($5,000) project well in plus matchups against the Texans and Jets, respectively. But if you're looking to save a smidge more at the position, the Chargers are among the slate's biggest favorites and will face one of the Giants' backup quarterbacks.
The Chargers may be weak against the run, but they rank ninth in adjusted pass defense, and they're sixth in quarterback pressures per drop back. Even with their COVID-19 issues at wide receiver, Los Angeles should be able to control this game and put their defense in a potentially lucrative game script.
Kansas City D/ST ($3,700): It would've felt crazy to list Kansas City here earlier in the season, but across their five-game win streak, they've allowed 17, 7, 14, 9, and 9 real-life points. Over that span, they've scored double-digit FanDuel points three times, and only one of them was aided by a defensive score.
They're heavy home favorites against a Raiders team that likes to pass -- and will likely have to -- which could set the stage for this defense to pile up sacks and turnovers. While their season-long sack total isn't particularly impressive, the Chiefs actually rank fourth in quarterback pressures per drop back.